Big Road Machine

ABERDEEN, SD – Facing a three-goal deficit, the Bismarck Bobcats rattled off four unanswered scores and held on for a 6-5 shootout win over the Aberdeen Wings Saturday, completing the two-game sweep of their archrivals at the Odde Ice Center.

Trailing 4-1 after one after conceding a first-period hat trick to Wings forward Steve Obarzanek, the Bobcats turned to backup goaltender Aaron Nelson to try and dig themselves out of deep mire.

“I think our guys learned a couple of valuable lessons tonight,” said Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie, “one: you can’t take a period off in this league and expect things to go well; two: no game is out of reach if we play our game. Our guys stayed focused, shook off a bad first and grinded out two huge points on the road.”

Nelson got some fast help from his offense in the second as Danny Ray took a centering feed from Ryan Callahan and whipped a wrister past Wings goalie Hunter Leisner to trim the Aberdeen lead to 4-2 with 12:21 left in the middle frame.

Adam Knochenmus followed 4:12 later with his second of the year, pounding a one-timer through Leisner’s legs to pull the Bobcats within 4-3.

Former Aberdeen forward Filip Starzynski forced a 4-4 tie with 4:46 left in the second, powering a Nick Miglio rebound through Leisner amid a pileup in front of the Aberdeen net. It was the third goal for Starzynski, who was invited a week ago to join Poland’s national junior team for the 2012 World Junior Championships.

“We knew we had to come out as hard as we could in the second,” explained Starzynski, who was added to the Bobcats roster in September following the early season departure of Nikolaj Rosenthal. “We had to outwork them, outplay them, and want to win more than they did. We executed everything perfectly and put ourselves in a position to win.”

Bobcat blueliner Donald Olivieri put an exclamation point on the Cats’ second period surge, using a screen from Tyler Richter to boom a rising slap shot under the crossbar to force the Bobcats ahead 5-4 with just 17 seconds left in the middle stanza.

Obarzanek’s huge night, however, continued into the third as he followed up his own rebound on the power play to beat Nelson for his fourth goal of the night and force a 5-5 tie just 2:13 into the final frame.

Nelson and Leisner took charge from there, combining for 30 saves in the third and then another six in overtime, necessitating the Cats’ first shootout of 2011-12.

Frank DeAugustine converted the Cats’ first chance while Aberdeen first-liner Cory Ward drew the Wings even in the third round, with both sides’ shooters failing to score in the fourth—bringing about the decisive fifth round.

John Furgele opened the fifth with a goal, reading Leisner’s attempted poke check and blowing a snap shot over the Wings goalie’s glove. Nelson preserved his first win as a Bobcat by stoning Paul Prescott and triggering a jubilant celebration in the Bobcats’ zone with the comeback completed.

“It was a crazy game and it all came down to one shooter,” grinned Nelson, a former standout at Century High School in Bismarck. “I was nervous—I mean, I’m still shaking a little bit—but the team was counting on me and I wasn’t going to let our guys down. What a way to get that win.”

Nelson turned in a tidy 18-save performance to earn the Cats’ 11th win of the year while Leisner totaled an incredible 51 saves but could not avoid falling to 3-6-2 on the season.

Castan Sommer opened the scoring for the Cats, popping home a Dan Kovar rebound 5:01 into the game to boost the Cats to a 1-0 lead that would soon be forgotten among an avalanche of goals by Aberdeen’s top line.

Obarzanek netted two goals in transition to push the Wings ahead 2-1, followed by a power play strike from Ward for a 3-1 home team advantage.

The Macomb, Mich., native wrapped up his first-period hat trick with 2:49 left in the frame, banging in a back-door feed from Ward make it 4-1 Aberdeen and chasing Bobcats starting goalie Tommy Burke, who did not factor into the decision. Obarzanek now has 10 goals on the year—six of which have come against the Bobcats.

The Bobcats return to action Friday when they play host to Canada’s Dawson Creek Rage for the first of two interdivision, international showdowns at the VFW Sports Center, with a scheduled puck drop of 7:15 PM.

Friday’s contest will be broadcast locally on the radio home of Bobcat Hockey, Super Talk 1270, KLXX-AM, and worldwide on the official internet television partner of the NAHL, FASTHockey, at Pregame coverage gets under way at 6:45.

Season tickets are now on sale for the 2011-12 season—and going fast! Call the Bobcat Hockey office at (701) 222-3300 or email for more information on reserving a pro-rated package for this season!